The Making of a Muslim
By Khurram Murad
The primary motivating force that drives you to make sacrifices must lie inside your own self. The urge should come from within. The roots must lie deep in heart and soul. Neither group approval, nor conformity, nor organizational discipline, nor any other external pressure, should provide the compulsion to come forward with your sacrifice. Each one of them is important and has an important role to play in shaping our conduct. But if sacrifices are offered for any reason other than Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala's pleasure, it would be extremely difficult to offer large sacrifices, or offer them continually, under all circumstances. The will and spirit to sacrifice must be internalized.
Choice to sacrifice should be made willingly. This means that you should, by your own choice, come forward to offer whatever you can to secure Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala's pleasure. Your will should harmonize with His will.
This does not mean that one should not feel any pain or discomfort while making a sacrifice. Once you give up your love or your desire or your value, to feel pain is only human. Indeed, if you feel no pain in giving up something, that giving up may not be worth being called a sacrifice. You are throwing away something which is of no value to you. Rather, the greater the pain, the greater the worth of the sacrifice. But pain ought to be followed by contentment; contentment for having given up something you considered valuable for Allaah's pleasure which is really the most valuable, for having willingly borne pain for the sake of your love for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala which supersedes every other love.
Two Basic Aids
We have been given two basic aids to help us develop all those inner resources which I have put before you. I can only mention them in passing, for each deserves to be treated in detail in its own right.
'O Believers! Seek help with Sabr and Salaat' (Al-Baqarah 2:153).
What is Salaat? Salaat of course is a ritual worship. It consists of certain physical postures. It also consists of certain words which we utter from beginning to end. But the whole purpose of Salaat is to remember and to be conscious of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. This is what the Qur'aan very clearly states:
'Establish Prayer to remember Me' (Ta Ha 20:14).
What is Sabr? It is very comprehensive in meaning. Literally Sabr means to bind and restrain. In the Qur'aan it encompasses qualities as wide as restraint and resolve, patience and the will to sacrifice, discipline and steadfastness. It binds you to your pledge to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, to your brothers, to your good in the Hereafter.
Hold on to Salaat and Sabr and you will gain the strength you need to offer sacrifices.
Let us, finally, look at two models of sacrifice.
One is Ibraheem`alayhissal
aam: He was tried and tested in every conceivable way. His father, his family, the priestly and political powers all were opposed to him. He forsook them. He was thrown in the fire. He was banished from his home. He wandered through deserts and forests. And, ultimately, he put the knife on the throat of his son.
This was perhaps the most difficult thing to do. It involved not only the sacrifice of a beloved son; it asked for the sacrifice of a recognized basic human ethics. Yet, in final analysis, all ethics and morality are rooted in Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala's Will. Pleasing Him is the ultimate criterion. But, of course, only a Messenger in direct communication with Allaah can be in a position to override an ethics laid down by Allaah and give Him this extreme sacrifice. Each one of us, however, may at times, have to suspend his 'personal' ethical judgement in the face of a clear injunction from Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala.
Only after offering all these sacrifices, and the ultimate sacrifice, was Ibraheem proclaimed as the 'leader of mankind'.
'And when his Lord tested Ibraheem by various commandments and he fulfilled all of them, He said, Behold, I make you a leader of mankind' (Al-Baqarah 2:124).
If we profess and proclaim that we stand for a revival of Islam, where Islam will be the leader of all mankind, then we should, individually and collectively, follow and emulate; that noble model of Ibraheem.
The second model is that of the Prophet Muhammad, sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam. Whether it was in the valley of Makkah where thorns were laid in his path or in the valley of Taif where stones were thrown at him, on the battlefield of Uhud where he lost his teeth or in the streets of Madeenah where his enemies raised all sorts of slanderous campaigns and propaganda against him, he has left for us the best examples of sacrifice. So did his followers and Companions.
Sacrifice, as we saw earlier, primarily means slaughter of an animal. To remember the examples of Ibraheem`alayhissal
aam and Prophet Muhammad sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam, you sacrifice an animal each year on the day after Hajj; Hajj itself being a worship rite which incorporates the most intense and sustained sacrifices. Here we must remember two important lessons:
One: What finds acceptance with Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala is not the sacrificial animal, but our willingness and preparedness to sacrifice, His love in our hearts, our obedience to Him. Never lose sight of this root principle; never be content with 'form' without spirit; nor, though, ever give up forms.
'The flesh of them shall not reach Allaah, neither their blood, but Godliness from you shall reach Him'. (Al-Hajj 22:37).
Two: The supreme sacrifice is the sacrifice of life. By giving away your physical life in the way of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, you die once. And that is the ultimate sacrifice. But you are required to die every day and every moment as you overcome your deeply-rooted loves, as you offer yourself totally to Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, as you obey Him against all opposition from within and without. Thus you lay down your life, not just once, but again and again. That is the supreme sacrifice.
'Say: My Prayer and my sacrifice, my living and my dying belong to Allaah, the Lord of all the worlds'. (Al-An'aam 6:162).'Not equal is he among you who spent, and who fought, before the victory; those are higher in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards' (Al-Hadeed 57:10).
Let me say, in conclusion, that all sacrifices are required of us because we have to shoulder the immense responsibility of fulfilling the mission that Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala's Messengers were charged with: 'That you be witnesses unto mankind.' We must be true slaves of our Lord, and be selfless servants of mankind. It is to serve mankind that we have been constituted into an Ummah. That calling requires that we prepare ourselves for one of the most difficult tasks in life.
Without making sacrifices the revival of Islam will always remain a matter of speeches or a matter of dreams. To actualize it, we will have to give up our time and wealth, our life and resources, our personal likes and dislikes.
Even our best efforts, however, may not be perfect. We may waver and falter, we may fail and despair. But this is only human. What Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala looks at is our intention and effort. So let us turn to Him to help us lest our human frailties overwhelm us when sacrifices are demanded of us, and to seek His forgiveness for all our shortcomings and failures.
'Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget, or make mistakes. Our Lord! Lay not upon us a burden such as Thou didst lay upon those before us. Our Lord! Do Thou not burden us beyond what we have strength to bear. And pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us. Thou art our Master; help us, then, against people who deny the truth'. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)